Battling, overcoming, & bringing awareness: Local high-schooler combats eating disorder

GREAT FALLS- After overcoming anorexia and nearly dying from starvation, one Great Falls boy is now helping others heal from it.

Zach Schermele is the only male ambassador in the United States for a non-profit organization targeting those with eating disorders.

Just one year ago Schermele was inside of this same hospital you see getting treatment for anorexia.

Today, he's not just a survivor of a complex disease. He's a Project HEAL ambassador who's an advocate for 30 million people nationwide who are combating eating disorders.

"One of the things that drew me to them was that they offer these treatment grants to eating disorder victims. They've offered 90 treatment grants so far nationwide," said Schermele.

Through social media, his voice, and this bracelet on his wrist, he's able to give confidence to both females and males that there's always help available even if you can't afford it.

"If I would have had those kinds of opportunities available to me, it would have helped my family a lot financially. Thank God we had great insurance that helped cover things, but it didn't cover everything, and I just can't imagine what the financial situation would be like for individuals who don't have that kind of economic support," Schermele.

Out of those 30 million people fighting eating disorders, 20 million are females and 10 million are males which is why Schermele's gender and leadership make him unique.

"That's not always very prevalent in eating disorder victims that are willing to come forward and tell their stories. The fact that I'm a high school ambassador, we work with a lot of young people, and that's when we see these negative behaviors start to develop," said Schermele.

But, Schermele said, regardless of your gender and having this disease, it doesn't change how people should look at you.

"I published a piece in the Huffington Post about why anorexia isn't just affected for girls. USA Today did a feature story. Nationwide I have heard stories of other people messaging me over social media or finding my contact information texting me, calling me saying my son went through this my daughter went through this," Schermele.

In a few months, he'll be heading off to college somewhere in Montana, and tells me wherever he decides to go, he still plans to grow Project HEAL throughout the state.

"I'm a survivor of anorexia,” said Schermele.

So those words are heard more every day. If you want to follow Schermele's Project HEAL social media account, or donate money click here.

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